Once upon a time, in a garden far away, there lived a mongoose and an anteater.
Each morning they would awake and begin the day finding food in the garden. The mongoose would smell fruit, giggling and sniffing his way to the fruit trees. The anteater would follow behind, flicking his tongue and slurping up tasty insects.
The two went on like this for many years… The mongoose would sniff, giggle, and eat fruit and nuts. The anteater would blindly follow, flicking delicious insects from beneath the fruit trees. They never spoke to each other, rarely even making eye contact. (of course, anteaters have terrible eyesight.)
Each night they would return to their burrows and sleep until morning, repeating the previous day’s rituals, until one day they both were dead.
Ok. I confess… I just made that up.
I wanted to start this post with a great parable about “seizing the day” or “making the most out of work every day” – but alas I could not find one, so I made this one up.
Regardless, don’t be like the mongoose and the anteater. Get more out of every day when working in your contact center.
And now with that out of the way… here are some easy things (in no particular order) you can do in your contact center today that will increase productivity, teamwork, and fun!
1. Lighten Loads
Start with your manager. Ask if there is anything you can help them with. Something you can get off their plate to help lighten their load. Check in with your peers and your direct reports. If you can help one person with something, with anything, it fosters a culture of teamwork and can become incredibly contagious. Try it and see how long it takes for someone to return the favor.
2. Talk to People that Bug You
The people you seem to know the least about are often the ones that bug you the most. Have you thought that if you try to discover a commonality it might eliminate some of the unpleasantness? Think about it for a moment. I bet if you wrote down a list of all the people you work with by memory, and then wrote something you know about each of them (i.e spouse name, hobbies, home town, etc.) … you would find it easy to do this for the people that give you energy, and you might know little about those that seem to take energy away…
So fill in the blanks. Take a moment to get to know them. Stop by and chat after you ask if you can lighten their load. Once you have some common ground you can avoid the things that seem to suck the energy out of you.
3. Upgrade Someone
If they send you an email, call them back. If someone calls you, walk over to their office. You get the idea. It improves communication and can be a fun competitive thing to implement.
4. Be a Supermodel
The best way to create an effective sales and service culture is to model the desired behaviors whenever possible. How long do people hold to get access to you? How’s your active listening? Do you ask “Is there anything else I can help you with?” when you start to close a conversation? Do you follow through and keep good notes regarding your commitments? Try “quality monitoring” yourself throughout the day to see if you can be the contact center’s next top model!
5. Be Silly
Do something silly. If you can’t sing – then sing! If you can’t dance – dance! Get the idea? Sales and service centers can be stressful and tedious, so lighten the mood and bring some energy to your center by doing something silly. I work with a client that occasionally pushes a drink tray down the aisles of their call center on busy days exclaiming “Please remain seated with your headsets buckled as we are experiencing high call volume. In the meantime, the captain offers complimentary drinks!”
Service level stays up – and so does morale! Let me know your silly ideas…
6. Seek Advice
Four powerful words: I need your help. Nothing builds trust and teamwork like seeking out advice. I bet you have a problem that needs solving even as you read this. Seek advice from peers, your boss, your direct reports. Collaboration is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it often strengthens buy in for whatever action you end up taking.
7. Eat in the Breakroom
Be where your people are whenever you can. The breakroom is a great place to start. Nothing brings people (especially sales and service people) together like food! Break bread with your staff and find out what’s going on in their world. Discovery the best cooks. Learn about vegetarianism. I bet you’ll discover some interesting passions among your team. Some of the things may help as you identify resources for future projects or initiatives.
8. Contribute to Nirvana
So often we are too busy to notice our work environment, yet we spend more waking hours at work than anywhere else. So…. notice things and help make things better. Here’s an easy example. If you notice some trash or paper on the floor, pick it up and throw it away, or shred it. If there are paper towels on the floor of the breakroom, dispose of them. If something needs cleaning, clean it! You get the idea…. I’m not suggesting that we start doing small repairs or projects that we aren’t qualified for. I’m just saying we can do more to contribute to our work environment. Small actions everyday contribute to nirvana.
9. Be a Great Greeter!
Do you speak to employees when they arrive? Its the opening of every interaction, right? You might even have a score assigned to greeting on your quality monitoring forms. So are you modeling it? Do you greet your employees as they arrive for work? Try using the same elements in your greetings that you want employees to use with their customers.
10. Show Appreciation
There seems to be an alarm or bell that goes off anytime someone does something wrong in a contact center. Maybe they are 2 seconds late, out of adherence, in idle, etc. There are tons of things most employees are doing “right” every day, but sometimes they are harder to spot and rarely do they trigger alarms. So find time to catch people doing something right and then thank them for it. A great call, showing initiative, working late – I’m sure there is something every day.
Also show your appreciation in unique ways. Write a thank you note to the spouses of the staff that stayed late. Wash an employees car. Let me know what other creative expressions of appreciation you come up with!
Let me know what you think… Let me know what I’ve missed… Let me know if you tell the parable of The Mongoose & the Anteater!
Are you Customer Driven? Are your customers working for you to reduce operational costs while improving employee performance?
Take the free Customer Driven challenge and put your customers to work today. Visit the Tamer Partners Corporation website at www.tamerpartners.com to find out how!
Scott O. Thomas
Senior Partner @ TPC
Customers @ Your Service!